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Former Football Coach Remembers Crash Victim
“It's just tragic because that kid had it all. He had everything,” said Aaron Eames, teacher and former football coach at Yosemite High School.
Aaron Eames has fond memories of his former quarterback, Matt Harkenrider. The two lead the Badgers together back in 2006.
Eight years later, on this Thursday morning, 26-year old Harkenrider found himself in a situation he could not steer out of at the intersection of Herndon and Fresno Street.
“It's not just like losing a student or student athlete, it's like losing a child. It's like losing someone from your family,” said Eames.
Police say 45-year-old Roberta Soto was driving a stolen SUV when she allegedly sped through a red light while under the influence of meth. She smashed into Harkenrider's Mazda, ultimately causing a five car pileup.
“Luckily when they hit our truck that car kind of forces her car over the top of mine otherwise she would have hit me direct,” said Phu Hau, a crash survivor.
Soto went to the hospital with broken bones. A disturbing detail is that a nurse found her clutching meth in her fist.
“It's sad commentary that in the valley we've got a huge problem with meth and man it really reared it's ugly head today,” said Eames.
Eames says Harkenrider moved to Oakhurst from southern California he excelled in both football and baseball.
“Just a carefree kid, easy to be around. I remember having some tough days and just coming out to practice and he'd put a smile on your face,” said Eames.
Eames says the sudden loss of such a positive young man serves as a wake up call.
“It just makes me think of my own sons and how precious life is. You shouldn't take it for granted. You should enjoy everyday because you just have no idea,” said Eames.
Matt Harkenrider worked as a radiology technician at Fresno’s Community Regional Medical Center. He recently got married and has a small child. He also has a twin brother.